Thursday, July 18, 2013

10 Buried KISS Treasures

Nobody argues that songs like Rock and Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City or Shout It Out Loud are anything but stand-alone, rock-anthem jewels.

But with 20 studio albums, many believe there is enough great material that isn't known in the same way, songs like Shock Me, God of Thunder or Lick It Up. There are enough songs, however, that are difficult to forget for the opposite reason.

Musical missteps include Shandi from 1980s Unmasked album, Dance All Over Your Face from 1983's Lick It Up, or anything on the 1981 album Music From The Elder.

Here's a list of buried treasures, a guide to the best of the rest.

1. She: Dressed To Kill: 1975 Perhaps the best Kiss song not on the usual Top 10 lists, this is a blues-inspired song based on riffs that sound as fresh today as they did nearly more than 30 years ago. It works because it's moody but has the energy of a song twice its tempo.

2. Rocket Ride: Kiss Alive II: 1977 One of a few new studio songs to appear on this iconic live album, Rocket Ride is a nice illustration of Frehley's contribution as a songwriter and vocalist. It's no Cold Gin or Parasite, but this boogie-rock tune and space theme is a neat backdrop to Frehley's vocals.

3. Raise Your Glasses: Psycho Circus: 1998 From this underrated Kiss record, Raise Your Glasses has a chorus that is as cheesy and fabulous as they come. Like much of the album, the songs commemorate the resignings of Criss and Frehley. It's overproduced, but the glam-rock approach and energy make it worth a listen, or two.

4. Firehouse: Hotter Than Hell: 1974 Firehouse is a perfect illustration of the Kiss mandate to write songs meant for the stage. It fell out of favour after the better anthems came, but Firehouse still works on its own. And like all Kiss songs, the live version, which appears on Kiss Alive, makes for a better listen. Plus, the concert version includes sirens!

5. Rock and Roll Hell: Creatures of the Night, 1982 The song's story is worthy of inclusion on this list because it's a re-worked Lynyrd Skynyrd-like version recorded by Winnipeg's BTO in 1979. Simmons asked songwriters Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams for a heavier version and demanded writing credit, and royalties, after adding words of his own. If that's not Klassic Kiss, what is?

6. Paralyzed: Revenge: 1992 Like Psycho Circus, Revenge was meant to move the band to a new chapter. With renewed attention to songwriting, Revenge is heavier and better produced than the previous stinker Hot In The Shade. Domino was the best song Kiss had recorded in years, but Paralyzed was similarly raunchy and good.

7. Got To Choose: Hotter Than Hell: 1974 This song might be old, but its rawness and stark production work. This studio version seems uncommonly slow by Kiss comparison, so comparing it with the live version is a good idea. Stanley's voice was being expanded beyond the rock growl fans heard so much of in the 1970s.

8. Do You Love Me: Destroyer: 1976 Kiss lyrics are among the most mundane and cliched in music, which is why many fans love them. This one's a beauty because the sugary chorus works as a cool contrast to traditional rock verses. When Stanley sings about love in this song about groupies, the irony is idiotic, but fabulous.

9. Fits Like a Glove: Lick It Up: 1983 A song from the first postmakeup era, this Simmonsauthored speedy rocker doesn't stray from the fourchord formula. But this fourminute song plows through the sex-heavy lyrics with quick guitar work. By this time, Kiss was relying heavily on guest musicians, particularly in the case of Frehley's sporadic availability.

10. Plaster Caster: Love Gun: 1977 Written as a tribute to Cynthia Plaster Caster, a groupie who became famous for making moulds of the manly parts of her favourite musicians, the song has lilting melodies and a pop-rock feel. The lyrics are idiotic and the subject matter isn't song-worthy, but even that isn't enough to spoil the music.